RPK vs the Malaysian govt: Who dares will win

AFTER 14 months of lying low, Raja Petra Kamaruddin (RPK) finally had his debut in London and received a standing ovation from a packed hall at the BPP Law School in Holborn, London.

The crowd comprised a mix of journalists from the Malaysian media, reporters from the foreign press, Malaysians living overseas, students, interested non-Malaysians and curiously, Malaysian tourists in London who somehow got wind of RPK's lecture.

RPK's entourage included his wife, Marina Lee Abdullah and his lawyer, Amarjit Sidhu, who were all escorted by two bodyguards.

The talk started with a short clip of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation showing Marina and her daughter on their way to visit RPK at Kamunting. Whilst it is obvious that the detainee is the one who is suffering both physical and mental torture, many overlook the stress placed on family members. Marina later confessed that the range of emotions raging through her was so intense that she would at times, have her daughter speak on her behalf.

RPK's explanation of the origins of the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) was simple. The ISA started out as the Emergency Regulations Ordinance 1948, to combat communist terrorism during the Emergency of Malaya. It should have been removed from the statute books with the end of the Emergency but it wasn't. The other opportunity for removal presented itself at the 1989 Peace Treaty with the communists, but again, was never acted on.

In 2002, the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) conducted a study of detainees and found that the ISA was being abused for political reasons. To date, no information is available, but it has been suggested that in the past 40 years, around 10,000 people have been detained by the draconian ISA.

'My territory is here in the UK'

People have disappeared and families have been intimidated. They were petrified to mention that their relative had been detained. One shocking fact was that a detainee had been incarcerated for 32 years. We were given details of the shocking detention of whole groups of people in Sabah.

RPK reminded us that the government had succeeded in putting the politics of fear into its people: "In the past, the ISA stopped you from shooting and bombing. Today, it stops you from having thoughts. So you have a nation of robots."

He then challenged the Malaysian government to bring him to trial in the United Kingdom where he felt that there was a level playing field in his fight against charges of defamation and sedition as well as his appeal against his detention under the ISA.

He said, "I will take on the government and I will fight them but I will do what Sun Tzu said, 'Fight him in your territory. So my territory is here in the UK."

He compared himself with Anwar Ibrahim, the leader of the opposition party who was facing a sodomy charge which Pakatan insists is trumped up. Anwar, he said, aspires to be the next prime minister and is prepared to face the risks. However, RPK added, "I have no political aspirations. And I'll probably be a free man longer than Anwar".

He questioned why the Attorney-General had yet to decide on the government's appeal against his release from the ISA, after more than a year. He even stressed how the Malaysian judiciary was tainted and cited several examples of his problems with the judges at his hearing.

He urged each and every Malaysian to exercise their right to vote, which was provided for in the Constitution.

He even called on overseas Malaysians residing in the United Kingdom to demand the right to vote during the Malaysian Election. He suggested a location in London, possibly, the Malaysian High Commission where independent observers from the parties could bear witness to fairness. He also insisted on a foreign election watch, possibly a United Nations team of observers to stop the rampant fraud in our elections.

'The time for diplomacy is over'

Citing the recent Sibu by-election, he related how the Election Commission manipulated events such as the handling of the postal votes and the delayed announcement of the result. He blamed the prime minister's "deal or no deal" stance on an electoral system and Electoral Commission that needed urgent serious reform.

The PM's offer of RM5m to the people of Sibu, was a violation of election law. He cited how the Election Commission then said that the case had to be reported to the MACC, which in turn would probably say that a police report had to be made first. Each institution was intent on passing the buck.

He expressed frustration and said it was like a dog chasing its tail and that in the meantime, the time frame for reporting such abuses might even have lapsed.

He even alleged that there was a power failure in Sibu whilst the votes were being counted, something which had not been reported in the press. He also referred to past election disappointments during similar black-outs.

RPK ended the talk with the call for greater transparency and accountability in Malaysian politics.
He was in a defiant mood. The time for diplomacy is over, he declared.

Malaysian Mirror

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